Whether your goal is to lose weight or maintain a healthy lifestyle through diet and exercise, your eating habits are the first area to take a closer look at. Most people shy away from dedicating themselves to healthy eating because they think they won’t be able to enjoy their favorite foods or meals. However, there are plenty of easy ingredient substitutions you can use while cooking or baking, that will make your dish much healthier. Enjoy your favorite meals while still eating healthy with these eight ingredient substitutions.
Butter/Margarine- If a recipe calls for this fatty ingredient, you can opt for your choice of almost any fruit puree instead to make the dish healthier. One of the most healthy and delicious substitutions is apple sauce, but you can also use prune puree, canned pumpkin or even baby food veggies or fruits. These ingredients work in the same way that butter, shortening or margarine would, but are much healthier for your diet, and will add more flavor as well.
Salt- If you are trying to lose weight or simply eat better for a healthy body, you’ll want to cut down on your intake of salt. Although salt is used as a universal flavoring for almost any dish, there are several ways you can season your meal in a healthier way. Using herbs and spices, either fresh or dried, add much more flavor to your favorite dishes, and can also contain health benefits like antioxidants. Rosemary, oregano, thyme or garlic can all be added as a seasoning without adding calories. Another way to increase flavor without salt is by using citrus juice like lemon or lime.
Mayonnaise/ Sour Cream- If you like adding a little bit of creaminess to some of your favorite meals, but are aiming to eat healthy, you will want to make ingredient substitutions for mayonnaise and sour cream. These fats add no nutritional value, with a lot of calories that you don’t need in your diet. Easy and healthier choices include plain Greek yogurt or regular non-fat yogurt. You will likely not even notice a difference in taste as these ingredients really don’t add much flavor.
Meat- Its true that those who consider themselves meat lovers will never fully give up their taste for this juicy staple, but cutting down on the amount of meat, especially red meat, that you eat can be incredibly beneficial to your health. Reduce your intake of unhealthy, fatty meat by substituting fiber-packed veggies in your favorite meals. A great way to make dishes much healthier with added nutritional value is to substitute in some hearty veggies or beans for the same “meaty” effect. You will significantly reduce your fat and calorie intake if you decide to use your favorite vegetables in place of meat.
Flour, Pasta and Rice- If you’ve taken any interest in your health and weight loss goals, you know that wheat options are the healthy choice over white. White flour, pasta, rice and bread are all stripped of their nutritional content and are simply processed carbohydrates. One of the easiest ingredient substitutions to make your meals more healthy is to opt for wheat or whole grain versions of these components. In terms of nutritional value, whole wheat flour is rich in fiber, magnesium, zinc and folic acid.
Eggs- These protein packed animal products have suffered a bad reputation recently for being unhealthy and high in cholesterol. Although its true that egg yolks do contain most of the calories and fat from an egg, they also hold most if its calcium, iron and B6 vitamins. So although a whole egg isn’t terribly unhealthy, consumption of a lot of this ingredient is not good for your body. The best and easiest way to make a dish that includes eggs more healthy, is to swap in egg whites or egg substitute for whole eggs. Egg whites can give you essentially the same ingredient with much less calories and fat. Aim to include two egg whites for every egg that a recipe calls for, or 1/4 cup of egg substitute to knock about 200 milligrams of cholesterol and 5 grams of fat from any meal.
Oil- Every diet needs some portions of healthy fat to aid in bodily processes. However, using oil every time you are cooking or baking can add immense amounts of fat to your diet that you just don’t need. If using oil, you should always use olive oil as this is one of the healthy mono saturated fats. But if you grease your pans with oil or butter, you should switch it out for cooking spray. This will cut down a lot of your caloric intake and still allow you to cook meals the way you like. Also, oil products in baking and cooking can be switched out for other healthier ingredients like applesauce or nonfat yogurt. Add nutritional value and flavor in a healthy way to your meals by doing this.
Sugar- For those trying to lose weight or eat healthier, you’ll want to cut down on your intake of sugar and sugar substitutes. Improving health through cutting back on the amount of sugar you consume is easy by making simple replacements while cooking and baking. There are plenty of ways to add flavor and sweetness to almost any dish in a natural and healthy way. Choose to use ingredients like vanilla, honey, cinnamon or nutmeg to add some sweet flavor without the calories and fat from sugar. If you do need to use a sugar substitute in baking, go for Stevia which is taken directly from a natural plant and is the healthiest of sugar substitutes.